Brexit: Retired civil servant discusses fishing row
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June Mummery, founder of REAF, the Renaissance of the East Anglian Fisheries, savaged Giles Watling, MP for Clacton, as he backed Ms Truss in the race to become the next occupant of No10 Downing Street. Her fury was prompted by the Essex town’s fishing crisis, which the businesswoman suggested Mr Watling was not taking into account when endorsing the Foreign Secretary.
Ms Mummery, former MEP for the East of England, lashed out at the Clacton MP in response to a tweet in which he announced his “support for Liz Truss to become the next Leader of the Conservatives and Prime Minister”.
He said: “I have not publicly endorsed anyone thus far because I wanted to spend time to listen to members and local people in Clacton.
“I have heard loud and clear that we need a government that is more efficient and able to deliver on the real priorities, such as improved GP and dental care access, as well as securing the Brexit dividend we deserve.
“Having reflected on all of this, I am supporting Liz Truss. Rishi (Sunak) is a fine and capable man, however, his tax and spend approach as Chancellor so far doesn’t sit easily with fundamental Conservatism.”
Writing on Twitter, Mr Watling added: “I believe we need to cut hard-working people’s taxes to help deal with the energy and cost of living cost crises.
“In my capacity as Chairman of the Backbench Committee on Foreign Affairs Policy, I have been impressed with the strength Liz has shown on Commonwealth matters.
“As she has said, we must build a network of liberty between countries that believe in sovereignty and self-determination, to stand up against authoritarian regimes. The Commonwealth sits at the heart of this.”
Ms Mummery, a member of the Lowestoft Fish Market Alliance, replied: “Clacton was ripe for rebuilding its fishing industry.
“What have you done to support fishermen in your area?
“Our ocean is in crisis. 1,700 EU vessels still hammering our waters daily – unmonitored, unregulated.”
Britain and France have been in heated talks over post-Brexit fishing licences for UK waters since the start of last year.
Under the Brexit trade and cooperation agreement (TCA), French fishers can continue to fish between six and 12 miles from the UK shore and off Guernsey and Jersey until 2026 if they have a discretionary licence issued by Britain.
To be granted that licence, they must have previously fished in a particular area between 2012 and 2016.
Requiring proof in this way is normal practice in fisheries management.
However, the two countries disagree over the evidence required for past activity, and how much of it should be needed.
According to France, some 210 licences have so far been granted for the six-to-12-mile zone and off Guernsey and Jersey, whereas it requested 454. Authorities say only about 20 of Boulogne’s 112-strong fleet are permitted to fish in that zone.
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The UK, meanwhile, says it has granted about 1,700 licences – or 98 percent of EU applications.
But that figure includes licences to fish in Britain’s exclusive economic zone between 12 and 200 miles from the coast, which were automatic under the terms of the TCA.
Ms Mummery has previously criticised the Government’s stance on EU vessels still fishing in British seas.
She told Express.co.uk last month: “Brexit was a golden opportunity to take back control of our waters and resources.
“A majority of people that voted to leave the EU wanted that.
“We didn’t vote to be sacrificed.”
The Brexiteer added: “The deal negotiated by Boris (Johnson) and [former Brexit minister] David Frost was a massive betrayal beyond belief.
“That tells me coastal communities are not important to parliament, the Tory party or Labour.
“Labour should be all over this.
“They should be banging the drum for coastal communities.
“We were sold out. Boris had it in his hands. Look what he could have done.”
She also pointed out that none of the Tory leadership candidates had addressed the fishing issue, saying on Twitter on July 10: “I haven’t heard anybody in Government mention the fishing industry & our coastal communities.”
During her speech at a Tory leadership hustings in Exeter earlier this week, Ms Truss briefly touched upon the key Brexit policy.
The Foreign Secretary told the audience: “I will back our fishermen. In 2026, there’s going to be a new negotiation and I will make sure as an independent coastal state we have full control over our fishing waters.”
Ms Truss and former Chancellor Rishi Sunak, the two final prime minister contenders, will face one another in a vote by Tory party members in September.
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